The New International Encyclopædia/Hemp, Bowstring

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HEMP, Bowstring. The fibre produced by Sansevieria spp., a genus of Liliaceæ with representatives in tropical regions of both hemispheres. The employment of the fibre for making bowstrings led to this name. The plants are stemless perennials which grow wild in the jungles and increase by runners. The leaves, which yield readily to treatment in the fresh state, are thick and fleshy, sword or lance-shaped, and rich in fine lustrous fibre which ranges from two and one-half to seven feet in length, does not rot readily in water, and by experiment has been found to be the strongest and best-fitted fibre for deep-sea sounding. The plant, which is propagated readily from cuttings, requires a good rich soil in which, under favorable conditions, it will reach its full growth in one year. Ordinarily, however, it does not acquire its full size until the second season, and some species do not yield a crop until the third year. When once the land is stocked with it a full crop may be expected from the roots within twelve months after cutting. It does not appear to exhaust the soil materially, and will continue to make vigorous growth for a number of years in the same place. The yield is about 50 pounds of fibre per ton of green leaves. The total yield per acre has been reported by experiments to be nearly two and a-half tons of fibre annually.